General Election 2019: What the parties are saying

Posted 27/11/2019

The General Election is an important opportunity to have your say over access to treatment and support for people affected by eating disorders.

Beat has asked the political parties to commit to invest in early intervention and ensure that people of all ages with an eating disorder can access high quality treatment quickly, to require that eating disorders are appropriately covered in medical training, and that eating disorder research receives sufficient funding. You can read the documents we sent to the parties at the bottom of this page.

We’re also asking you to contact your local candidates to call for their support in ensuring that eating disorders are caught early, and that people of all ages can get high quality treatment as soon as they need it. With just a few clicks you can send a letter to all candidates in your area, showing that this issue matters to you and asking them to pledge their support – you can do so here.

Most political parties have now published their manifestos, setting out their priorities, including for the NHS and mental health.

What are the parties promising?

Earlier this year, the NHS published a Long-Term Plan, enabled by additional funding pledged by the Government in 2018. This plan promises significant additional investment in children and young people’s eating disorder services and improvements in access to adult community mental health services. The Conservative Party manifesto for this election promises to enshrine this funding promise into law, whilst also changing the law to help prioritise collaboration between NHS organisations above competition. It also pledges to legislate ‘so that patients suffering from mental health conditions… have greater control over their treatment and receive the dignity and respect they deserve.’

In their manifesto the Labour Party commits to ‘invest more in eating disorders services and ensure NICE guidelines on eating disorders are implemented’. They pledge to add new standards on mental health care to the NHS Constitution and end inappropriate out-of-area admissions. They say that they would implement the recommendations of the independent review of the Mental Health Act - this is the law that was designed to ensure patient safety when people do not consent to treatment.

The Liberal Democrat manifesto promises to “Introduce further mental health maximum waiting time standards” including “services for people with eating disorders”. It pledges to ensure all frontline public service professionals receive mental health training and require that a fair share of public funding for health research is set aside for mental health research. The Lib Dems also say that they would implement the recommendations of the independent review of the Mental Health Act.

The Green Party of England and Wales says that through additional funding it would ‘ensure that everyone who needs it can access evidence-based mental health therapies within 28 days.

Decisions about the funding and provision of mental health services outside of England are taken by elected politicians in the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly. However, many decisions taken by MPs in Westminster can be of vital importance to people with eating disorders in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. This includes policies about employment rights, social welfare and some laws including the Mental Health Act.

Plaid Cymru highlight the importance of increased funding for mental health services in Wales and establishing a 24/7 Mental Health Crisis service.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) says that it’s MPs would campaign for an increase in spending on health by the UK Government (in England), as this would result in additional funding being made available for the Scottish NHS.

In recent years, mental health has risen up the political agenda, and it’s becoming increasingly recognised as a key priority for public health. Although there has been significant progress in some areas, such as access to specialist eating disorder treatment for young people in England, there is a long way to go before quality treatment and support is available for everyone when they need it.  Don’t waste your opportunity to have your say and contact your local election candidate here.

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